What’s more exciting than venturing up the side of a snowy slope and knowing that pure powder awaits? Doing it in a helicopter. The best heli-skiing vacation to take in a private jet depends on the location, quantity and quality of snow, terrain, helicopter type and the time of year. As the snow begins to fall across the country’s mountain ranges, here are our top picks for the ultimate ski experiences when you want to reach barely-touched terrain without a passport.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
With over 305,000 acres of skiable terrain, Jackson Hole’s heli-skiing providers get you as high as 15,000 vertical feet (about half the cruising altitude in a chartered flight) in the Tetons and surrounding mountains. High Mountain Heli-Skiing takes you on up to six runs throughout the day, stopping for lunch at the Heli-Deli.
The area’s perfect ski-in/ski-out accommodation is the Four Seasons Resort Jackson Hole with its modern, alpine lodge-like rooms with in-room gas fireplaces. Be sure to take advantage of the five-star ski concierge services.
To get away from all the powder hounds, the Ruby Range in Lamoille is one of the sweetest spots you’ll find. The range is 12 miles wide and 60 miles long with about 300 feet of dry powdery snow throughout the winter and spring. Ruby Mountains Heli-Experience promises you 39,000 feet in three days, which comes out to approximately seven runs per day. If a storm hits, the helicopter provider has a backup plan—Snowcats that get you to at least 7,500 feet. The Experience also includes a stay at the 10-room ranch, dining on chef Francy Royer’s mouth-watering meals for breakfast and dinner, and lunch on the mountain.
While Colorado is rich with skiing destinations, it offers few in the way of heli-skiing. Telluride Helitrax graces the tops of the San Juan Mountains, taking you up to 13,500 feet. The terrain is 200 square miles of awesome and includes drops as high as 3,000 feet. After a day of skiing, fly your private plane to Vail, Aspen or Beaver Creek for dinner. Then return to Telluride to relax in one of the condos at the luxury Madeline Telluride in the Mountain Village.
Saving the best for last, Alaska is the biggest state in the US offering ample places to choose from. Since much of the population in AK gets around in airplanes, you’ll have no problem finding a place to land your private jet near your heli-ski destination. Our favorite, Cordova, AK is located in the Chugach Mountains offering 1,500 square miles of maritime snowpack and some of the steepest runs on the planet. Merle K. (Mudhole) Smith Airport (CDV) is the perfect spot to land your jet, followed by a short, scenic drive to Points North Heli-Adventures. Located on the Price William Sound, guests are provided with accommodations at its Points North Orca Adventure Lodge, which has its own on-site heliport. Points North is the only provider that takes you to the southeastern side of the mountain range, so you’re more likely to see a yeti than another skier who isn’t in your group.